JACKSONVILLE – Call this one a relationship of mutual respect.
Career-long – indeed, lifelong – respect.
Michael McCrary played against Tony Boselli eight times. Boselli, who played left tackle for the Jaguars from 1995-2001, respected few players – if any – as much as he respected the longtime Baltimore Ravens defensive end. McCrary felt the same way about Boselli.
"Absolutely mutual … absolutely," McCrary said.
McCrary, who played 10 NFL seasons with 71 sacks, recently joined senior writer John Oehser as part of a podcast series discussing Boselli – who in August will become the first Jaguars player enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. McCrary discussed multiple topics, including the mentality that made Boselli one of the best left tackles in the NFL's Golden Age at the position.
"Tony should have been a defensive player," McCrary said. "What made our matchups so special is he gave it 100 percent every snap. It was very challenging to get a sack on Tony. You talk about the weapons Jacksonville back in those days: [running back] Fred Taylor, [wide receiver] Jimmy Smith, [quarterback] Mark Brunell …
"Those were weapons, but those weapons would not have launched from their launching pads unless you had Tony in the equation. He was a phenomenal pass blocker, a phenomenal run blocker."
McCrary continued, "He had excellent footwork. He had excellent technique. He was very cunning. He was very smart. He was a patient player. He was everything you would want in an offensive lineman."
But McCrary said one more element pushed Boselli from talented to great.
"The rarest element to find is someone who had all of those assets but is also very aggressive and has a mindset to be very aggressive," McCrary said. "He had the mindset of, 'I'm going to get it done no matter what it takes.' He would break it down one snap at a time and do everything to execute that play no matter what.
"To go up against someone like that, who could consistently challenge you play in and play out – over and over again – was very interesting to me because that was rare. You normally don't see with offensive linemen."
McCrary added, "I loved it. He only made me better. That was my challenge for the year. Most offensive linemen, I would put on my refrigerator before the year how many sacks I was going to get on them. With Tony, I had to be realistic and true to myself. I knew there was a good chance that I might just get one. I could never say 'zero,' but I knew I was going to have to work.
"He made me work like nobody else."
For the entire podcast with McCrary speaking about Boselli, click here.
To view the previous article in the series with Fred Taylor, click here.